What causes cardiac problems? A number of factors, including stress, unhealthy lifestyle and family history. In this column, we have looked at several tools for monitoring blood pressure and blood sugar at home. For instance, those who have survived heart attacks can keep tabs on body weight and blood oxygen level with the help of an oximeter that costs around Rs 2,000. This time, we take a look at some cardiac care tools.
"People who are victims of erratic lifestyles and go without adequate sleep, healthy food or proper exercise for long stretches of time (say, six months or more) should start monitoring vital heart signs to avoid risk factors which could lead to hypertension and diabetes," says Dr Deepak Padmanabhan, an electrophysiologist (he assesses heart rhythms to track anomalies) at Narayana Health in Bengaluru.
Although heart rates can be tracked via smartphones or devices costing about Rs 1,000, the doctor insists on continuous monitoring of cardiac rhythm, carried out in real time by ambulatory (small and portable) ECG monitoring devices. Depending on the product and its usage, costs could vary between Rs 9,000 and Rs 20,000.
These devices have been around for almost a decade, but according to Dr Padmanabhan, their usage has picked up over the past five years or so due to greater awareness. A Holter monitor, for example, is a portable ECG machine for checking irregular heart rhythms. A loop recorder works like a Holter monitor but with memory and cloud connectivity to allow reviews on smartphones. You can also buy cuffless blood pressure monitors, which are non-invasive and easy to use.
A transtelephonic transmitter is used where a person is wearing a pacemaker or any other heart-related implant. It is an external companion to an implanted device. The data from the pacemaker is directly transmitted to a doctor. The device costs Rs 80,000-1 lakh for a lifetime installation.
Adequate sleep is crucial as your body repairs itself and gets energised when you are sleeping. So, it is not surprising that several products and solutions are hitting the market to make sure that you sleep soundly. For instance, Dozee is a contactless health monitor that can be kept under the mattress and activated using the Dozee app for tracking sleep pattern, heart rate, respiration and stress level. Plus, there are smart beds which sense sleep movements and automatically adjust the firmness and comfort of the mattress.
Says Dr Padmanabhan, "We need a more holistic approach towards tracking our sleep, keeping close tabs on our daily physical activity and watching our diet along with heart rate and heart rhythm. Health issues take time to develop and they are not easily reversed. Therefore, constant monitoring can ensure early detection of a medical condition."